With the sun setting in Bahrain and the floodlights taking the lead, the scene was set for the second qualifying session of the season. After free practice look out for McLaren who were fast on Friday evening and Haas who had both cars in the top ten in the third free practice session.
As we saw in Australia cars were at the end of the pitlane early, with Sebastian Vettel there for a full two minutes before the session would start. He was followed by the two Mercedes drivers and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen. All the championship leading drivers at the end of the pitlane, with other only coming out when the session was due to start. Sauber and Haas would also come out onto the circuit early.
The running order on the track was Vettel from Hamilton, Raikkonen as Rosberg with them backing each other up at the end of the installation lap. Only Magnussen, Verstappen and Sainz would not go out for an early run.
With the leaders setting the early times it was Rosberg who took the fastest time from Hamilton, Vettel and Raikkonen. Grosjean and Gutierrez would take the early best of the rest places, before being split by Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg. The Williams drivers both had good laps with Bottas going fourth, and Massa in sixth – Bottas splitting the two Ferrari drivers.
At the bottom of the order it was Nasr, Haryanto, Palmer and Ericsson would look to be in a difficult position, although Sainz, Verstappen and Magnussen had yet to set a time. Sainz went eighth, with Verstappen going 9th. The first to drop out was Felipe Nasr in the Sauber and with Rio Haryanto in the pitlane he would also be instantly eliminated as well. The next after Haryanto would be Jolyon Palmer, but the Renault driver went out on another set of the super soft tyres. Also on the track, Ericsson had also improved to thirteenth. Palmer only went nineteenth, before being pushed down again by Stoffel Vandoorne going 12th.
So, the next to go was Palmer, with his teammate Magnussen also leaving in 19th – with him starting from the pitlane tomorrow. After Magnussen, the next driver in trouble was Pascal Wehrlein in the Manor, but he improved to 16th. He dropped Perez in the Force India into the hotseat, with him not getting enough time to respond leaving the Mexican eliminated in 18th. Ericsson in the pits couldn’t respond and would qualify in 17th and Wehrlein despite putting in a good effort for 16th place would also leave.
Ferrari were once again punctual at the second part of qualifying, with Kimi Raikkonen leading the way this time followed by the two Mercedes drivers. The green flag was waiving, although the light at the pitlane remained red with the leading drivers losing time in the process. They all went out on the super soft tyres as well, with Vettel having a good gap being Nico Rosberg to avoid the traffic.
With the leading four setting their first times, it was Hamilton from Vettel, from Rosberg – with half a second gap to the front with Raikkonen in fourth. A number of drivers were close in the midfield. Just a couple of tenths covered Grosjean in 8th to Button in 14th.
The first to drop out was Daniil Kvyat in 15th, with Jenson Button not able to respond in 14th place and dropping out in Q2 – out qualified by his young teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, along with Esteban Gutierrez in 13th and Stoffel Vandoorne himself not able to get out again for a second run.
Going out for another run with six minutes remaining included Nico Hulkenberg, currently in 11th place in the Force India with no other driver on the circuit. With Sainz and Verstappen not going out in 9th and 10th, they would also fall in Q2, although just what position would they end up? The Force India would make the jump to 8th and drop Grosjean out of the session. Bottas and Massa would also go out on the circuit , with only Bottas setting another time in 5th.
The session started with the Ferrari drivers once again at the front of the field, followed by the two Mercedes. Everyone going onto the circuit took a new set of the super soft. They all hit a 28.5 through the first sector, building up to close first lap for the teams. Vettel went faster than Raikkonen, with Rosberg ahead of the pair of them. Hamilton went wide at the final corner with him only in fourth. Despite having the newer front wing, Massa wasn’t faster than Bottas in fourth and fifth. Hulkenberg didn’t improve on eighth fastest, which would see him out. A good lap from Ricciardo would mean that both Williams drivers were also out, Bottas sixth and Massa in seventh. Ricciardo would also exit the cockpit at the end of his first run, with him starting in fifth.
So, both Mercedes and Ferrari drivers went back out onto the track again. Hamilton had a very good first sector, a couple of tenths up on what we had seen before. The second sector he was up by nearly four tenths as well with him heading over the line by four tenths. Raikkonen was fourth and Vettel in third, while Rosberg could only get within a tenth of his teammate leaving Lewis Hamilton on pole position.